Seedling Craft Kits

May 12, 2015

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Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is sponsored by Seedling. Find a 25% off discount code below. Build, imagine, play!

I’m so excited to be working with Seedling today! I have been reading about them over the last few months, and was delighted when they reached out. Seedling creates really cool project kits for kids — the kind of kits you’d totally want in the cupboard when summer boredom kicks in, or when a rainy day surprises you. Founded in New Zealand and recently expanded to Los Angeles, their products are imagined in both places. I ordered four different kits so I could get to know them, and I’m impressed!

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What I noticed first were the unusual kit topics, like Make Your Own Pinata, Pirate Peg People, and Invent Your Own Insects. And the next thing I noticed was the great-looking packaging. In fact, I remember thinking you could tie a bow on any of the kits and they would make an excellent birthday gift.

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There are TONS of projects available based on categories like Science & Nature, Arts & Crafts, Imaginative Play, and Dinosaurs & Rocks. You can search by category, by age, or by price. Seedling knows all about the importance of growing our children’s imaginations, so kids are invited to use their own initiative at every stage of the activity or kit, from the materials they’ll use to the ways they’ll play with it.

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Oscar tried the Let’s Rock! Geode Kit. Since it was loud and messy and involved wearing goggles, there’s no surprise it was a big hit with this 10-year-old! And I loved it because my Grandpa Ralph used to polish stones and cut geodes as a hobby. I thought it was cool that Oscar was being introduced to an activity that connects him to earlier generations.

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Betty worked on the Butterfly Wings. The wings are a particularly good project for more than one kid to work on, because you can spread them out and make space for lots of hands and markers. And it’s the kind of project you can come back to over a week or two — there’s no need to rush through it. Best of all, the wings will make a fun addition to our dress-up collection.

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Seedling’s mission is to create beautiful, innovative products for families, and to celebrate the parenting journey by making it a little bit easier and a lot more fun. I love that sentiment! I know Seedling is new to many of you, and I hope you’ll find it as I helpful as I did.

Would you like to try Seedling for yourself? Here’s a discount just for you: Enjoy 25% off at seedling.com when you choose your own adventure using the code SEEDLINGDESIGN. (Offer valid one per customer; discount does not apply to past purchases, packaging, applicable taxes, or shipping and handling. Expires May 24, 2015 at 11:59 pm PST.)

Happy making!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Andrea Reisfeld and Saxton Freymann.

Mia owns a super cute boutique toy company on the Upper West Side of New York. It began in the basement of the building where she still lives, but now is found just down the street. Once a renovated ballroom that at one point was a Japanese tea room full of flea market finds, Chinese art deco, rugs, sky lights, and school house lighting, it’s pretty magnificent. (Especially the bathroom converted to become her son’s room! See if you can spot the tiling and leftover soap bed!)

The photographs she submitted were a jumble of old memories and current – how her home looked in the thick of of having three kids under four years old, and how lovely and quiet and clean it looks today, and every stage in between – and I wasn’t sure which ones to share. You see, her kids are older, off to college and other adventures, so sharing the older images might not make contextual sense. But then I thought, “Hey. This is what it’s all about! Learning from each other how to live as well as we possibly can with our children!” Mia has a goldmine of experience on this topic, and most of the important stuff happened years ago.

I went with the shots that inspired me: crafts at the kitchen table, stuffed sleepovers, working in the basement from 9:00 pm until 2:00 am, and room for one more. So if you see a shot of a young one climbing on a chair in front of a grand window, know that he is at University now, and know that probably every single detail in that photo is missed terribly today.

Yes, it took a lot of hard work and sleepless nights and sacrifice – you will smile when you hear how they communicated before mobile phones and FaceTime! – but she has zero regrets about how she lived with her kids. That is a result I wish for us all! Welcome, Mia!

Hello! I’m Mia Galison. I’ve been married to artist Saxton Freymann for 25 years. Sax wrote and illustrated the Play with Your Food book series, and he currently works on his artwork when he isn’t developing games or illustrating for eeBoo.

We had Eyck, (named for the Flemish artist) in 1994, and less than two years later we had twins, Elodie and Finn.

Sax and I share an enormous and glorious studio space that used to be a Japanese Tea House on Manhattan’s Upper West side. I work upstairs with the eeBoo staff and he works downstairs, in what used to be a beautifully tiled kitchen. He is a great husband who is always happy to spend the day at a flea market with me and talk over projects even in the middle of the night.

This home – then and now – is so wonderful! Come see!

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A Few Things

May 8, 2015

giant bag of cereal

Photo and image by Gabrielle. I’ve been traveling across the country with this giant bag of cereal. Why? Story here.

Hello Friends! How are you? I’m writing this from Atlanta, but I’m about to head to the airport. I’m on my way back to California today!! Oh my goodness. I CAN NOT WAIT to see my family. It’s all I can think about at the moment. And we happen to be heading into a very exciting weekend for my family — there are birthdays, Mother’s Day, Prom, and just regular life that I’ve missed so much!

Oh, and tomorrow, the family will be heading to the last of the four Pottery Barn Book Parties. If you’re in the Bay Area, you should totally join us. Here are the details: On Saturday, May 9th, I’ll be at the Pottery Barn in Corte Madera, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. (Address: 1822 Redwood Hwy, Corte Madera, CA.)

My amazing sister, Jordan of Oh Happy Day, will be there, and my amazing sister-in-law, Liz of Say Yes, will be there too. Expect refreshments and special cookies, a Q&A, book signing, and crafting. The event is FREE and you don’t need to RSVP. It will be so fun to have my family there with me! And I look forward to meeting you.

I’d better finish packing, but before I go, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- How teens can become millionaires.

- So funny. Also makes me sigh from exasperation. Ask your doctor if you need birth control.

- Illustrating real love. Thoughts? Is this what love looks like to you?

- 7 habits of people who don’t stress over the little things.

- Joss & Main Sale inspired by my book — with a proceed for Every Mother Counts.

- Teenaged feminism.

- Best news! The Queso relaunched.

- Jack Black & Jimmy Fallon. (Class of ’92 peeps, are you feeling it?)

- A conversation with Anna Wintour.

- Corruption in America explained.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Every year, when Mother’s Day comes around, there are a whole lot of people who get discouraged or depressed for any number of reasons. I totally get that. If you’re at risk for either, I hope you’ll buy yourself some flowers or chocolates or whatever you love, so that you have something wonderful to enjoy on Sunday. I’ll be thinking of you.

And hey, maybe I’ll see some of you at Pottery Barn tomorrow! Either way, I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — Does anyone else think of sugar cereal as comfort food?

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By Gabrielle.

When Beth first wrote to me, she mentioned that she might not resemble my typical reader. After getting to know her better these last few weeks, I sure hope she’s wrong; I would love a hundred Beths adding their smart voices to my pages!

Beth is a college student – ahh, remember those days? – and I jumped at the chance to follow her through her day. She has advice on choosing a college, positive assurances for all your stressed high-schoolers about grades and test scores, and concrete ways to overcome homesickness and other difficulties when you’re far away from family, not to mention it’s simply great fun to see this professional-in-training before she embarks on her chosen career. If you ever wanted a glimpse into a young adult’s college life, here it is. Welcome, Beth!

Hi everyone! I’m a junior at Elmira College. I’m a childhood education (elementary) major with a concentration in visual and performing arts. My days this term are spent student teaching in a first grade classroom.

All students are required to live on campus all four years, so I live in an on-campus dorm. I’m currently student teaching about half an hour away, so I have to get up pretty early around 5:30. I really dislike getting up before the sun rises, so it usually takes me a few minutes to get out of bed!

More college life, straight ahead!

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Oh Happy Day Shop!

May 6, 2015

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By Gabrielle. Images via Oh Happy Day Store.

Did you see my sister Jordan’s new shop? It’s so well done! Like really, really good. It stocks party supplies and paper goods from all over the world. There are hundreds and hundreds of items — many of them virtually impossible to find anywhere else in the States. The site is beautiful and easy to navigate, with fun features like searching by color.

I have high expectations for anything Jordan takes on because she is amazing, but this shop is even better than I imagined. If you already read Jordan’s blog (her new blog design was revealed yesterday!), you know she has impeccable taste, a great eye, and endless brilliant ideas. In fact, she planned and decorated my Oakland book launch in less than twenty-four hours, and it included spectacular decorations, and a giant 3-D version of my book. And she pulled it off after being out of town for 10 days! I’m telling you, she’s amazing. And oh man, she worked her fanny off making this shop launch happen. I’m having a total big-sister pride moment just thinking about it. Go Jordan!

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Definitely take a look at the new shop, and then bookmark or pin your favorites so you’ll be ready for your next gathering. In fact, while you’re at it, I highly recommend stock-piling some party supply basics so that you can put together a last-minute event in a snap.

If you rarely shop for party supplies, this new store may not seem unusual to you, but for those of us who have hunted down speciality balloons from obscure sources, called shop after shop looking for a particular tissue garland, and managed to track down distinctive birthday candles while we’re traveling halfway around the world, the Oh Happy Day Store is a life-saver and total breath of fresh air!

Do you have siblings or besties that are working on cool projects? I’d love to hear!

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By Gabrielle.

I am a big fan of families who not only make a smaller space work, but actually thrive in it. (I think I’ve told you this before!) There’s often so much more to living with kids than the house itself, right? Spacious, cozy, or somewhere in between, much of the goodness comes from what’s outside the front door.

And the way Sophie describes it, Phoenix has a lot to offer (I spent half of last week in Phoenix, and I agree!). Like the weather. For those who live in a cold climate, Phoenicians’ winters are definitely enviable. It’s the summers that keep families inside and hiding from the 110 degree heat! And it’s then that the smallness gets to Sophie. How does she deal? I’ll let her tell you! Welcome, Sophie!

Hi, everyone! My name is Sophie. I’m married to a totally awesome guy named Mike, and together we have three daughters: Ava, Perla, and Zosia.

Mike and I are both native Phoenicians, which seems to be mind-boggling to many people here. Lots of natives leave, while many non-natives relocate here. I used to be one of the people who couldn’t wait to leave, but over the years I’ve come to develop a true love for our city and state. Anyway, we were both born in the same hospital, which we now live a block away from. Sometimes I feel silly admitting that, but the hospital itself is somewhat of a landmark with some unique architecture, so it’s fun looking out our dining room window and seeing the place where we both started. We also live half a mile from the high school I attended. Another one of those things I’m not sure I should admit or not! Ha!

Phoenix often gets a really bad rap for being nothing more than a suburban wasteland, and that can’t be farther from the truth. While, yes, a large majority of the city is indeed suburban, the area in which we live is rich with cultural diversity. We live in a historic neighborhood in the downtown central area, where local businesses reign and true community exists. Our neighbors are some of the friendliest, kindest, most generous people you will ever meet. The market up the street knows us by name and treats my girls to lollipops every time we’re in.

We’re a three block walk from award-winning dining, a ten minute walk to our famous local library, the Phoenix Art Museum, several wonderful playgrounds, and our favorite neighborhood cafe. Just a few blocks from us is a glass studio that hosts live glass blowing performances during downtown’s First Friday Art Walk. Ten minutes on a bike will land you at the Children’s Museum, Symphony Hall, the Science Center, Chase Field Ballpark, or Saturday’s open air Farmer’s Market. We can see Piestewa Peak from our living room, watch airplanes flying into the airport, and can walk across the street to the public pool. It is truly a dream.

There’s just so much this city has to offer. And beyond the city are all of the other wonderful things Arizona has to offer. Surrounding us is the breathtakingly beautiful desert, with its blooming cactus, stunning sunsets, and late-summer monsoons. Mountains that offer the perfect day hike. Two hours north you’re in the forest, with much cooler temperatures and snow in the winter. And just beyond that is the Grand Canyon! There’s just so much beauty in our state it’s hard not to fall in love with it.

Although Mike and I were born in the same hospital, our paths didn’t cross until many years later when we worked together as baristas in the same cafe. It was an almost instantaneous connection; we were married less than 18 months later! We’ve been married seven years, over the course of which I’ve realized we make a pretty perfect match. Mike is level-headed and slow to speak, whereas I’m more hot tempered and I definitely speak too quickly. He loves coming home from work and taking over so that I can have a break. I fold the laundry, he puts it away. We make each other laugh every day. The mutual balance we’ve achieved is something I’ve really become so thankful for in our marriage.

More from Sophie, straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

Have you seen the new Olive Us episode? It’s fantastic! And a totally different concept than we’ve tried before. All thanks to our oldest son, Ralph. It was his idea, and he directed and edited the footage. Very exciting! I’m betting your kids will love it. And you too! It’s short and cute and really fun.

Olive Us: Lemon Waffles. On set. Olive Us: Lemon Waffles. Behind the scenes.

We first showcased this episode in the Olive Us newsletter last week and it’s getting such a fun reaction. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Feel free to share it with someone you love!

P.S. — Fun fact, since Olive Us launched, we’ve made 47 episodes total. You can find them all here. Subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to see upcoming episodes!

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A Few Things

May 1, 2015

You Are Special Today Plate DIY

By Gabrielle. Photo by Amy Christie for Design Mom.

Hello, Friends! I’m writing to you from Arizona. I arrived here on Wednesday for my book signing, and then I was lucky enough to stick around for the Mom 2.0 Summit in Scottsdale. I spoke on a panel this morning, and I’ve had a fantastic time connecting with old and new friends. For me, blogging conferences are like getting to hang out with c0-workers. It feels like such a treat to talk shop for several days in a row!

What’s next? Well, tomorrow (Saturday), I fly straight from here to Seattle. This coming week, Pottery Barn is hosting 4 book parties for me. How awesome is that? This is where I’ll be:

- On Sunday, May 3rd (that’s day after tomorrow!), I’ll be in Seattle, at the Pottery Barn in University Village from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. And my co-host is the lovely Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt. Address: 4627 26th Ave NE in Seattle.

- On Tuesday, May 5th, I’ll be in Chicago at the Lincoln Park Pottery Barn, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. My co-host is the fantastic Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely. Address: 1000 W North Ave in Chicago.

- On Thursday, May 7th, I’ll be in Atlanta, at Pottery Barn Lenox Square, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, with my amazing co-host Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte. Address: 3393 Peachtree Rd NE in Atlanta.

- On Saturday, May 9th, I’ll be back in the Bay Area, at the Pottery Barn in Corte Madera, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. And my sister, the wonderful Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, will be my co-host. Address: 1822 Redwood Hwy, Corte Madera, CA in the Bay Area.

These Pottery Barn Events are FREE to attend. No need to RSVP. At each event there will be book signing, a parenting Q&A, a craft project, and treats — including a custom cookie made just for these events. And Pottery Barn will be open for all customers during these events which means you can browse the store as well. So please come by and say hello. I really hope to see you there!

(Wondering what the craft is? It’s that cute You Are Special Today plate pictured above. And if you can’t make it to the events, you can also find the DIY in my book.)

Now, I’ve got to get back to the conference. But before I hit publish, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

- My schedule has been so unusual this week, but when I’ve had a few minutes here and there to check in, my mind goes straight to Nepal, and to Baltimore. It’s been a heavy week. I hope you’re all doing okay.

- One method for dealing with distractions.

- “What is it that prevents people from seeing themselves in us?”

Chemical party.

- Lost Mongolian tribe that trains reindeer, wolves, and eagles.

- Gay men when straight people aren’t around.

- Happy May Day!

I hope you have a good weekend. Maybe I’ll see you in Seattle! Either way, I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — I know this is a shorter than normal link list. Because I’ve been traveling, I’ve had less time this week to collect interesting stuff. But I’ll try to add to this list over the weekend, so feel free to check back tomorrow. And if you’ve seen something cool this week, share a link in the comments!

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By Gabrielle. Painting by the amazing Karina Bania, titled, Point of Balance

I’m so drawn to the lovely, quiet way Erin compares her drastically different births to artwork: both beautiful, but one with a few more brushstrokes that only come with experience. So many of us try to gather up all the information we can possibly carry before a big life-changing undertaking – it’s comforting, right? – only to discover that our experience didn’t remotely follow the books and methods and tried and true advice. Sometimes you’ve just got to feel it for yourself.

You’re going to love Erin’s story. I just know you will. There’s anticipation, disappointment, a second  chance, a sudden twist of fate that will make you gasp, a brilliant suggestion to spend the night before delivery at a sweet hotel, and a very happy ending. Oh, I hope I didn’t spoil it for you! Here are all the good parts of Erin’s story! Enjoy!

Welcome, Erin!

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Keurig Design Mom2

Photos and text by Gabrielle. This post is sponsored by Keurig. Use code DESIGNMOM to get 30% off a Keurig 2.0! Details below.

So I was on a call with Keurig, and they mentioned they wanted me to try their 2.0 brewing system. I responded that I’d need to pass because I’m not a coffee drinker, and they said, “Actually, that’s perfect! Because the 2.0 system is not only about coffee. It was created for the entire family (even the kids!), and there are over 400 different beverages available. Many of them have nothing to do with coffee at all, like hot cocoa, peppermint tea, and apple cider.” And then I was like, “400 different options?!” And they said, “Yes. Over 400. And we partner with more than 60 brands that you know and love, including Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Tazo, Snapple and Swiss Miss.”

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So I thought, why not? Beyond a french press, I’ve never actually used a coffee machine of any sort. I see them in hotel rooms and have no idea how they work. But hey, it’s never too late to learn! Plus, chamomile tea and hot cocoa are daily staples at our house, and once I learned about Keurig’s offerings, I could see we would actually use this machine daily. And beyond our own family, I love having the house stocked for visiting neighbors, exchange students and houseguests — and that means having coffee on hand. So I decided to give Keurig a try.

Keep reading for a post update about Keurig’s sustainability practices.

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Transhumanism & Ben Blair

April 29, 2015

By Gabrielle. Photo by Justin Hackworth.

I’m heading out today for the longest leg of my book tour. I’ll be gone 10 days. That is so long! I’ve never been away from the whole family for that many days, and I won’t lie, there were a lot of tears as I sent the kids off to school this morning. I’m feeling especially grateful to Ben Blair this morning. All this travel is a major disruption to our family schedule and puts a big burden on Ben.

Like all families, our regular life is full and active — while I’m gone, there are science fair projects due, prom shopping that needs to happen for the big dance next week, a middle school concert (and a choir uniform that needs to be dealt with), gymnastics for the youngest three, and regular stuff like laundry, etc.. But Ben acts like managing it alone is no big deal. He has been incredibly supportive of this book project from the very beginning, and it simply wouldn’t exist without him. Gosh I like Ben Blair.

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In addition to being an ideal husband and parenting partner, he’s also a really interesting person who is always working on cool projects and developing new ideas. In fact, a few weeks ago he was in Salt Lake City presenting at the Mormon Transhumanist Conference.

Have you ever heard of transhumanism? There are official definitions out there, but when I try to explain quickly, I say it’s humans after The Singularity — when humans and computers merge. Imagine post-humans — an advanced version of humans that are super-hero-like, or even God-like. If you saw the movie Interstellar, it references future humans who can see and create in more dimensions than we can currently. They don’t use the word transhumanism in the movie, but that’s what I thought of when I watched it. Most transhumanists are athiests, but there happens to be a Mormon faction, because our doctrine actually fits quite nicely with the idea of transhumanism.

Anyway, Ben’s presentation was a shortened version of an essay he’s been working on for months. He looks for ways to bridge the conversation between religious and non-religious people and his essay is a good example of his thinking. Plus he references a Rilke poem that is one of my favorites!

We just got the link to the video of his presentation and it’s so good! I wanted to share it here because I’m proud of him, and also because I think you’ll find it interesting. It’s about 20 minutes long and well worth it! If you get a chance to watch it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Even better, if you like it, I hope you’ll share it. And I’d also love to hear your thoughts on transhumanism if you have any. I pretty much love to hear your thoughts on any topic. : )

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Ez Pudewa.

It’s been years since Marichelle and I first spoke about a home tour. Years! And by the time she contacted me again, there were two more daughters and a new, very cool shop added to her story. Isn’t it funny how time and babies fly?

For those of you who struggle with redefining your identity after adding children and all the responsibilities that arrive along with them to your life, Marichelle has a bit to say about her own experience. For her, it was integral to develop her professional life in order to enhance her personal life. She’s become a much happier mother by simultaneously becoming a very happy entrepreneur. You’ll adore her shop, adore her home, adore her wraparound porch, and I think you’ll fall a little in love with her story, too. Please enjoy it! Welcome – FINALLY! – Marichelle.

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: Hello! Thank you for having us! We are a family of five. My husband, Jonathan, and I have three daughters: Emma is four and a half, Lucy is two and a half, and Alice is nine months.

I was born in the Philippines and we came to the US when I was seven years old. I pretty much learned English by watching Romper Room and Sesame Street. I grew up in Queens, New York, and if you listen very closely and catch me off guard, you can still hear the Queens in me! Jonathan grew up in Stilton, a tiny village in England. Yes, it’s where Stilton cheese gets its name! The village even has a yearly cheese rolling event! We met at work, started dating, and shortly thereafter moved in together. He’s the smartest, funniest, charmiest of charmers, and tallest (6’4”) man I know!

Emma has a crazy sense of smell; she can always tell when I’ve been for coffee at our favorite bakery, Able Baker. Lucy is our spitfire. We knew we were going to have our hands full the moment she came into the world. I’ll never forget the moment when she was crowning and my OB started laughing because Lucy wasn’t fully out yet and she was already crying! Alice is the baby. She’s been a gem and is a perfect mix of her two older sisters, both physically and personality wise. She’s currently our human Swiffer since she hasn’t quite learned how to crawl yet and instead drags herself from place to place. I try to keep her in a onesie – more coverage that way!

Q: Where do you live, and how did your house become your home?

A: We currently live in a 100+ year old Victorian in Maplewood, a small town in New Jersey within commuting distance to Manhattan, NY. We realized we were outgrowing our previous house, and decided to put it on the market and try to find a home in the same neighborhood that would fit our needs better.

More sweetness, straight ahead!

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Dwell Studio-2

By Gabrielle. 

Before I jump into my report, the first thing I want to mention is that the next book party is happening tomorrow night in ARIZONA! 7:00 PM at the Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe. Extra fun: Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook will be there to do the Q&A. I love Jenny so much. I can’t wait to see her! Friends, YOU are totally invited. There will be treats and goody bags and a book signing and mostly, I can’t wait to meet you.

Now. New York. I am still grinning thinking about the New York party at DwellStudio. It was gorgeous. All of it. The store, the guests, the flowers, the food, even the weather!

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This is the first of the book parties where we had a professional photographer in place and I’m so glad! It’s essentially impossible for me to both sign books all night and take photos, and if I have one regret about the book parties, it’s that I haven’t arranged for a photographer at each event. So I LOVE having these photos. In fact, if you attended the party, or want to see lots more images from the party, they are posted on Dropbox here.

Let’s talk party details. The flowers were by Taproot. They are an amazing Brooklyn-based florist and they are committed to only using local growers. There were simple, stunning flower arrangements on every table and they were so beautiful — they fit right in to the sophisticated and modern DwellStudio aesthetic.

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There was champagne and passed hors d’oeuvres throughout the evening. And another fun thing about the book party in New York is that instead of gift bags, DwellStudio gifted my book to each guest! So instead of purchasing the book, a donation to Every Mother Counts was suggested. So great! If you’d like to make your own contribution, you can do so here.

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Christiane Lemieux is the founder of DwellStudio and she hosted the party. She is a business powerhouse with flawless taste and an incredible eye — you may recognize her as one of the judges on Ellen’s new design show. We originally met at Alt Summit and we’ve become friends over the last few years. I feel incredibly lucky to know her.

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Christiane did the Q&A and she had excellent questions for me. At Alt Summit, I am usually the one asking the questions in an interview, so this was fun to have the tables turned! The Q&A was actually videotaped, and as soon as I can track down the link, I’ll share it with you.

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I am so grateful to Christiane for hosting the party, and I’m grateful to the whole DwellStudio staff for being so amazing. The event organization was super smooth. Between the DwellStudio team and my publicity team at Artisan Books, every detail was attended to, and I was able to focus on meeting the wonderful party guests and signing books. I can’t thank everyone enough!

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Being in New York is always fun for me, because when I’m there I get to see a mix of friends from my old neighborhood, co-workers from my ad agency days, blogging friends I’ve met over the last 9 years, and my book team from Artisan as well. I LOVED seeing all those dear people at the event, and meeting so many amazing readers as well.

Seriously, it was such a fun gathering. I just beam when I look at the photos. I can’t thank people enough for coming to the party. You guys are awesome!

Another party report ahead! Click for Boston details.

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11 Secrets to Cleaning Your Tech Devices. Laptops, cameras, smart phones, etc.

By Gabrielle. Image by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.

Normally, weekends are my favorite time for catching up on Facebook or spending time on Pinterest. But I’ve noticed that over the last few weekends, I’ve barely been on social media. I might share an Instagram, but nothing else — I hardly even glance at my phone. I think it’s because my schedule has been unusually intense lately, and when the weekend rolls around, I really crave a social media break.

In fact, I realized I ended up getting something like 48 hours away from the internet last weekend., and oh my goodness, it was such a reminder that an extended break like that feels so good every now and then!

Though really, when I “step offline” it’s not a strictly accurate phrase, because I still use the internet and my phone for things like watching a movie with Ben Blair, or texting with my kids so I know when to pick them up from practice. For me, going offline means no Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no blogging and no blog reading. I definitely take offline breaks during my normal work days, but extended offline periods are much more rare.

I’m curious, what does “going offline” mean to you? And how often do you give yourself an internet break?

P.S. — When’s the last time you cleaned your tech? Here’s the Design Mom how-to guide.

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A Few Things

April 24, 2015

New York

By Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? I flew home from New York last night. My book tour events in Boston and New York were fantastic and I’ll be posting about them next week, but right this minute, I couldn’t be happier to be back in Oakland. Coming home is the best feeling! And I’m really looking forward to the weekend. How about you? Anything you’re looking forward to?

I’m stepping away from my laptop to get working on post-trip laundry, but here are a few things to keep you entertained over the next few days:

- A little boy takes flight.

- Exciting changes for some of my long-time online friends: Big announcement from the original Mommy Blogger. And what will become of SF Girl By Bay?

- The Pink Tax.

- DIY marbelized ribbon.

- The hidden reason for global poverty. It’s the best TED talk I’ve seen in ages.

- Giraffes at the pool.

- Woman walks the Paris Marathon with a bucket on her head.

- This is not a well-researched claim, but the idea of real live books making a comeback made me happy anyway.

- 7 lost American slang words.

-  The value of terrible female engineers.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Photos and text by Gabrielle.

I guarantee you do NOT want to miss this giveaway. It’s a really good one, and it’s perfect for creating gifts for Grandmas and Mother-in-laws for Mother’s Day. The giveaway is sponsored by Artifact Uprising, and the prize is a $250 gift certificate!

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Do you know Artifact Uprising? They are a small company dedicated to preserving the beauty and the stories that are sitting on our phones and in our digital cameras. They are “inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible” and they’re driven by the belief everyone has a story to tell. That dedication and inspiration translates into simple, gorgeous photo products — photo books, prints, and cards.

They offer about fifteen options, and each one is perfection. So you can’t go wrong, and you won’t need to spend hours deciding what to pick. I love that! It means one less barrier to getting those photos on paper, so that you can preserve and observe them in a tangible way. Check out their Mother’s Day gift guide to find the ideal present.

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I chose two items to give as Mother’s Day gifts this year. First, this Wood Calendar. It comes with 12 sheets, featuring 12 different images, printed on beautiful paper. Then you clip them onto the board and switch them as the months go by.

There are two things I especially love about this product. First, you don’t have to wait until January to use this, because the calendar is printed on a rolling basis. Meaning, you place the order, and the first sheet of paper will display the current month.

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Second, the clipboard comes with a magnet on the back, so you can pop it on the fridge instantly!

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The other item I chose is a the Wood Block plus Prints. It comes with 12 photos, again, printed on luxe paper, that sit in a handsome wooden holder. And the wooden block is handcrafted using reclaimed beetle pine from Colorado forests. You can switch around the photos as often as you like — by the month, by the year, heck, by the hour!

I used images from a recent family photo shoot — a combination of portraits and candid shots. Some feature the kids individually, and some feature the family altogether.

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I’m so impressed with the quality of these products! And I also want to note, that Artifact Uprising designs many of their offerings with a square format, which is ideal for using Instagram photos. And if you use Instagram photos for these projects, uploading them takes mere seconds. Which means you could have your Mother’s Day gifts sorted, uploaded, and ordered in a snap. (Speaking of Instagram, Artifact Uprising’s stream is one of my favorites!)

To enter the giveaway, enter your email in this widget. The contest is open until April 30th. Good luck!

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aqua vespa profile

By Gabrielle.

Okay you guys. I know I should wait until it arrives in a few weeks, but I’m too impatient. Ben Blair just bought this vintage Vespa! Isn’t it gorgeous?!! He says it’s a Mother’s Day gift, but honestly, we rarely ever buy gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, so I know we’re just using Mother’s Day as the excuse. But I don’t mind at all. Hah!

I have wanted an old school Vespa for years and years, and he has been keeping his eye out all this time, waiting until he found a good source. I’m so excited about it. I can’t wait to see it in person!

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I’m sure I will be inundating you with photos when it finally gets here. It will be Vespa overload! But for now, enough about the adorable scooter. Let’s talk about what YOU want for Mother’s Day.

Not kidding! For Mother’s Day, PayPal wants to know exactly what moms this year. So they launched a really fun social campaign: Share the gift you’re wishing for on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, starting today through Wednesday, May 6th, and tag the post with #ultimatemomsday. Oh. And they want you to think BIG. So presents can be small or large — and feel free to include why you need/want the gift you’re asking for. Share exactly what you want and you just might be surprised.

I’m partnering with PayPal to get the word out about this campaign because I think it’s a great way for them to celebrate mothers, and it’s a perfect excuse for people to try PayPal if they’ve ever been curious about it. I’m actually a long-time PayPal user. I’ve had an account for a decade, and I’ll go out of my way to use websites that offer PayPal — I even favor certain airlines that allow PayPal payments, and Ben Blair used PayPal to buy the Vespa!

The first reason I love using it is convenience. I don’t have to have my wallet or purse nearby if I need to make a purchase. All my info is stored in PayPal, so it’s just a matter of clicking a button instead of inputing credit card info and expiration dates. I find it so much easier, that I realized I’m like 200% more likely to donate to a good cause if PayPal is an option. Seriously. It’s just such a time saver for me.

And the second big thing I use PayPal for is to reimburse family or send money to friends. For example, if someone picks up theater tickets for me, I can instantly send them money before I forget, and without having to stop at the ATM. It’s also a great way to collect funds when you’re working on a group gift or any sort of group purchase.

Anyway, I’m a huge PayPal fan, and if you do much online shopping, I would definitely encourage you to give it a try. But more then that, I would encourage you to post your Mother’s Day gift wish, and tag it with #ultimatemomsday! Wouldn’t it be awesome if you were surprised with what was on your wish list?

Now it’s your turn. Do you know what you’d like for Mother’s Day, or will you need to think about it for a bit? And have you ever used PayPal? Also. What do you think of the Vespa? Adorable, right?

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Famous Names

April 22, 2015

Humans of New York - Beyoncé

By Gabrielle. Photo by Humans of New York.

Apparently, I am the last person in the world to read the Humans of New York story about a school girl named Beyoncé. She says:

“Sometimes I hate my name because it always draws attention to me, and I’m not a very social person. My family moved this year from Pennsylvania. I was so scared the first day of school that someone would notice me. I wouldn’t even adjust my seat because I thought it would make a noise. One time I really had to cough, but I held it in. When the teacher started calling attendance, I got really nervous, because every time people learn my name is Beyoncé, somebody starts singing ‘Single Ladies.’ And some did, of course. But the second day of school wasn’t too bad. Because everyone knew my name.”

The comment section on the Facebook post is pure gold. If you need a grin today, I highly recommend taking a look. : ) Of course, it also got me thinking about my own name. It’s not a famous one, but when I was growing up in St. George, Utah, “Gabrielle” was considered unusual. I remember every first day of school, as the teacher took roll, there would be a conversation like this:

Teacher – “Gaww-breeee-ellle?” (Always said in an attempt at an accent.) ”Is that how to pronounce that?”

Me – “That’s me, but you can just call me Gabby.” (I always offered this because Gabrielle seemed hard for people to pronounce.)

Teacher – “Gabby? Why? Do you talk to much?” (Cue laughter from classmates.)

Me – “Well, actually…”

And then in 7th grade, which was the first year I had different class periods with different teachers, I had the realization I would need to have that conversation 7 times in the same day. And I totally did! But I didn’t mind the name Gabrielle, or Gabby. Other than the first day of school, people rarely gave me flack about it, and I ended up liking the fact that I had a memorable name.

It made me wonder, do you, or your kids, or maybe your siblings, have names that have dual meanings, or sound famous, or are memorable in one way or another? And if yes, did you like having a remarkable name? And when you named your kids, did you search for, or avoid, remarkable names? I’d love to hear. I get such a kick out of name stories!

P.S. — Remember when we talked about nicknames?

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Bela Lumo Photography.

If you’ve ever been tempted to move to Florida but were waiting for just one more sign that it’s a brilliant idea, here’s your sign. To convey to you as accurately as possible that Blythe loves Florida, I would have to write it like this: BLYTHE LOVES FLORIDA! Although I’d need a few hundred additional exclamation points and maybe a few billboards to really get her point across!

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To me, it’s pure delight when someone loves the place they live; I always seem to gravitate toward those people, don’t you? Blythe is no exception. She loves her plot, is over the moon about her family and career, and has such a fresh approach to the how and why she decorates her family’s home with meaningful-to-them objects. Oh, and the way she describes teaching To Kill a Mockingbird to her students gave me goosebumps.

This is a good way to spend some time today, Friends. I really hope you enjoy Blythe’s tour.

Q: Please introduce us to your family!

A: Hi, readers! We are the Grossmanns: Nathan, Blythe, Cora, and Cassandra.

Nathan is my husband, our provider in the most literal sense: he spends any free time he can out in the woods or on the water, trying to lure in whatever animal he can! He justifies this hobby by saying he’s harvesting and contributing to our dinner table, and using the animal products in the most extensive way he can – more on that later – but essentially, he is just a free spirit who needs to connect with the wilderness on a regular basis. Nathan is thoughtful in a quiet way, spending lots of time teaching Cora how to work on a boat, or to crack open a coconut, or painting her nails. He and I started dating back in high school. Even then I was drawn to his quiet strength, his appreciation for our home state, and his odd sense of humor. Those things haven’t changed, nor has my affection for them.

If I’m going in chronological order, I’m next. My name is Blythe and I teach English at our local high school. It is a calling as much as a career. I absolutely love books, love sarcastic, boisterous, bighearted teenagers, and I absolutely love my job. I am also a mama, obviously, and this certainly doesn’t come secondary, although that comes as a bit of a surprise to me. I never thought I would need to have kids – Nathan and I both were doing just fine without them – and yet, coming to feel so passionately about parenthood has been the sweetest surprise of my life.

On to the kids! Cora is four years old, and never fails to astonish me with just how thoughtful she can be. Case in point: my grandmother succumbed to a long illness last night and when I told Cora today that she had passed away, her first response was, “Mama, we need to keep visiting her house. All of her friends [she lived in a small assisted living facility] will be sad and we need to take them cupcakes and maybe sing to them.” Of course, she’s right…but the fact that her heart always goes towards others is something that I find both inspirational and comforting. In addition to being tender-hearted and generous, Cora is many other things, including dramatic! Nary a day goes by without her losing her mind over something: the house burning down, getting stung by a bee, misplacing a marker, or me looking at her the wrong way are equally tragic and ALL garner the same reaction. Loud crying. Yeah, it’s…awesome. Not at all exhausting. Perhaps one of the things I love most about Cora is her lack of squeamishness. This is maybe a classic case of nurture beating out nature, but Cora is very casual about catching lizards, playing with earth worms, and eating dirty carrots straight from the garden. Cora is so in tune to nature and has such a great appreciation for every living, growing thing; she knows where her food comes from, delights in helping us grow it in our backyard garden, and I think that’s just cool.

Last but certainly not least, there’s Cassandra, more often referred to as Tickle Baby or, and I’m sure we’ll regret this, just Tickle. For whatever reason, Cora started calling her that when I was pregnant and it just stuck! It’s hard to describe an eight-month old’s personality, but so far Tickle seems to be the calm in our storm. She has just started crawling, so she’s into EVERYTHING, but she almost never cries so long as we’re around and is just a cheerful, complacent baby in general. She’s a bit of a Mama’s girl as of now – I think nursing encourages that – but she is so interested in Cora and our dogs and the world around her. We don’t plan on having more kids, and something about this baby…maybe knowing she’s our last has made her first months some of the sweetest ones I’ve known.

Super sweet shared girls’ bedroom, up next!

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Photos and text by Gabrielle.

I’m super excited for today’s giveaway, and I can’t wait to introduce you to littleBits Electronics. Have you heard of littleBits? Maybe you watched the Ted talk? Well either way, I’m thrilled that they are sponsoring today’s giveaway — because I’m super impressed with this toy, and I know you’ll love it. By the way, the prize is a $200 Deluxe littleBits Kit!

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I mentioned littleBits is a toy, and that’s true. But it’s also an amazing educational kit. It’s made of these small color-coded electronic modules that snap together easily via built-in magnets. Once you open a box, it’s pretty much irresistible to start messing around with the pieces to see what they will do, and what you can create.

After just minutes, Oscar and Betty had worked on module combinations that included actions like clapping to turn a light on, pushing a button to make a buzzer go off, fading a light in and out, and adjusting a light to be different colors by turning up or down the different RGB dials. They have had zero previous experience with this sort of thing, so littleBits was completely eye-opening for both of them.

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At first, we just started messing around with the kit, but the kids got really excited when we checked out the projects that the littleBits community has made. Things like sending a text message when someone rings your doorbell, and a remote pet feeder. We didn’t get into anything that ambitious — the closest we got was Betty making a pineapple sign that spun around and around on it’s own. Hah! But the grin on Betty’s face when she accomplished her goal? The best!

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As a parent, my favorite part was watching Oscar and Betty test things and figure out how they worked: “Ooh! what if we make it so a red light goes on when we clap?” And, “Let’s try to make it buzz and spin when we push the button!”

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Little Bits feels like the ideal educational kit — our kids learn as they use it, but it definitely feels like play. And the reward is seeing (or hearing) whether putting the pieces together worked how you thought it would.

To enter, visit Little Bits and leave a comment below — I’d love to hear if your kids have ever shown any interest in the “making” movement. Would they enjoy a toy like this? The winner will be announced on Thursday. Good luck!

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Amy D. is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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